"Digital India is a powerful vision that India needs. It’s not an option. It’s a MUST DO"

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Kishore Balaji, Country Manager – Corporate Affairs, Intel South Asia

intel_kishore-balajiIntel and the Department of Science and Technology plan to create a technologically empowered ecosystem in the country. The ‘Innovate for Digital India Challenge (IFDC)’ focuses on the creation of local solutions to increase technology adoption under the Digital India vision and eventually lead to the commercialization of the best ideas to grow a robust local technology ecosystem that delivers solutions for India furthering the government’s Make in India vision.

What is the ideology behind Intel & DST ‘Innovate for Digital India Challenge’ and what are the different stages?
For the government’s Digital India vision to be a reality, the creation of a robust and secure digital infrastructure is imperative. There is also a dire need for a local ecosystem to develop in India that will provide customized solutions for India that are designed, developed and made in India, for India. The ‘Innovate for Digital India Challenge’ focuses on the creation of local solutions to increase technology adoption under the Digital India vision and eventually lead to the commercialization of the best ideas to grow a robust local technology ecosystem that delivers solutions for India furthering the government’s Make in India vision.

The challenge is divided into five phases:
1.Application: The application phase ended on June 22, 2015. In this phase, up to top 50 entries would present their ideas to IIM Ahmedabad, out of which up to 20 teams would be selected for the Accelerator program.

2.Accelerator Program: This phase will run from July to September 2015. In this phase, the participating teams will be given 12 weeks of mentorship in Bengaluru and Pune to develop Minimum Viable Products (MVP) based on Intel Architecture. Up to top 20 teams will be given prototyping grants of INR 200,000 per team. Top 10 teams will be identified in this phase.

3.GTM Preparation and Prototype Day: This phase will run from September to November 2015. The top 10 identified teams will be given grants of INR 500,000 each. Participating teams will showcase their MVPs to industry experts for feedback during the prototype day. The teams will also have interactions with the design house.

4.Early Adopter Interaction and Pilot Phase: This phase will run from November 2015 to January 2016. The participating teams will receive field immersion experience with select companies. Top three participating teams will be identified in this phase and due diligence process for providing access to equity funds will be initiated.

5.Demo Day and Showcase: This stage will take place in January 2016 marking the completion of the challenge. The top 10 teams will showcase their products to the key market players on the Demo Day. The announcement of the top three finalists will be made on the demo day. They will then be put in touch with industry players for productization. After successful completion of due diligence, the top three teams will have access to equity investment of up to INR 2,000,000 per team.

What are the challenges that are being addressed by IFDI Challenge?
Digital India is a powerful vision that the country needs. It is not an option. It is a MUST DO. The Digital India vision will empower every citizen with technology for universal access to services key to inclusive growth and development for education, healthcare and financial inclusion. Three biggest challenges in the way are: (i) Last mile BB access, (ii) Digital Literacy, and (iii) Availability of locally relevant solutions built for India.

For Digital India to be a reality, tech usage needs to be pervasive and technology has to start solving key local problems. This presents a unique opportunity for Intel to take the leadership position and become partner of choice for Digital India given Intel’s history of driving PPPs (Public Private Partnership) with IRIS/ISEF to launching NDLM (which is now a government program). The need of the hour is to foster a culture of innovation at the grassroots in India to build customized and localized technology solutions for solving India’s problems and driving large scale adoption of technology in India. With IFDI, we’re taking our PPP strength to new levels and putting into action the ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ philosophy.

How will it benefit the applicants?
Intel & DST ‘Innovate for Digital India Challenge’ is a unique platform for budding entrepreneurs that will identify, mentor, finance and network the most innovative ideas from across the country to help transcend India to its digital quest. Participants of the Intel & DST- Innovate for Digital India Challenge will be mentored by industry stalwarts and Intel experts. The participants will be trained in technical know-how, will be provided access to product kits and infrastructure and multiple commercialization opportunities. They will be offered market linkages and access to funds at various stages to enable them to make their solutions readily deployable.

It’s a rare end-to-end platform that not only identifies and acknowledges innovation and ingenuity but also gives an opportunity to the applicants to be trained, funded and networked by experienced mentors.

What will be DST’s role?
The Innovate for Digital Challenge is a collaborative platform between Intel and the Department of Science and Technology to help create a technologically empowered ecosystem in the country. DST aims at promoting high end basic research and development of cutting edge technologies to service the technological requirements of the common man through development of appropriate skills and technologies. Through this Public Private Partnership, DST is fostering the spirit of innovation in the country and giving a platform to budding entrepreneurs to create highly relevant solutions for India.